One possible strategy that small and medium businesses can employ to stretch their dollars in the current economic slowdown would be to deploy open source software as opposed to pouring more money into proprietary solutions. While it is hardly a surprise for an open source vendor to agree with this logic, Red Hat has gone one step further: CEO Jim Whitehurst has cited the current recession as a factor that has contributed to his company's success.
This declaration is no snake oil, either. As one of the most prominent commercial Linux vendors today, Red Hat last week reported that its annual earnings have topped $652 million. This is an increase of 25 percent over the previous year, no mean feat in the face of the current meltdown.
Of course, it would hardly be reasonable to expect every SMB to be comfortable with taking the leap and completely re-architecting their businesses around open source options. With this in mind, I earlier suggested that SMBs do a partial switch to open source instead. Beyond office productivity suites, is there another area where an SMB can leverage open source software with minimum fuss and user anguish?
Assuming you are running your own closed-source Web server, another way to employ the use of open source would be to tap into the LAMP stack for your organization's Web site. LAMP is a popular acronym representing Linux, Apache, MySQL, PHP -- all open-sourced server-side technologies. While it is true that Microsoft does have a low-priced "Web Edition" of its Windows Server operating system in order to compete with open source solutions as a Web platform, it still costs many hundreds of dollars for a single server license. In addition, scalability beyond one server would require additional fees, not to mention artificial limitations on the size of the database.
In contrast, the monetary cost of implementing LAMP remains flat regardless of the number of servers in your server farm. In addition, many good CMS frameworks already exists that can easily be adapted for use with your corporate site, such as Geeklog and Wordpress. Given their relative popularity, it is also affordable to purchase or even have a custom theme designed.